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(@the-o)
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Ok, iv been trying to suss this out for the last year.

In the simplest way possible without goin into too much nitty gritty, hang on, what i want to be able to do is play all seven modes in any key.

I have learnt all of the scale shapes and can connect them in the C- A -G-E-D system. what i need to know is, i realise i have to move all of the shapes to change key but do i have to move the shapes to change mode, how do i change mode?

Please in the simplest most practical (im not really a theory person) can some one steer me in the right direction, Thankyou

My life would totaly suck without music


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(@noteboat)
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You need to know which modes relate to which key.

Now comes the sticky part: if you're playing in C, and you decide you'll switch to a mode related to C major (like F Lydian) and play there for a while... it won't work. You'll think you're doing something, but it's a waste of time; the tonal center determines what the ear expects, so all people will hear is C major - no matter what you do.

Even though modes are formed from a major scale, they're really altered scales. Using them in any other context is a waste of time and energy.

So the trick is to switch to a C based mode. If you're playing in C major, and suddenly you start sharping all the F notes, that difference you can hear. So you'll need to know that C Lydian (which is a C scale with the F notes sharped) is a mode of G.

But really... if you're not into theory, what are you doing with modes? 99% of the guitarists who claim to use them have no clue what they're doing. The other 1% study theory (and play jazz).

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(@321barf)
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Even though modes are formed from a major scale, they're really altered scales. Using them in any other context is a waste of time and energy.
Ha ha ,I want a bumper sticker that says that.

But really... if you're not into theory, what are you doing with modes? 99% of the guitarists who claim to use them have no clue what they're doing. The other 1% study theory (and play jazz).
Good point.People get sick of pentatonic scales and so they're looking for something more,so they look to modes.However they don't want to do the in-depth study of theory that's required in order to understand them and how to use them.They want to learn,they just don't want to study.Their hearts are in the right place and the desire is there,however the effort is not.So no 'A' for effort unless you are willing to actually put in the effort that's required,which is alot of effort.You get back what you put into it.


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(@the-o)
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Ok, so i appears that there is no easy way to explain it, but i do want to be able to use these scales that ive learned because they deffinantly add different flavours. I was under the impression that modes were used in a similar way to the pentatonic scales.

So your saying i cant move all the major scale shapes to fit the key,
But i still want to use them , what do you recomend i do, i often play an e minor chord then use the c shape scale with the first note of that scale being open e, this sounds good and then i connect the scales and it all sounds good, kinda spanish so to get a different mode or whatever it is would i just use a different shape with the e minor?

My life would totaly suck without music


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(@321barf)
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Ok, so i appears that there is no easy way to explain it, but i do want to be able to use these scales that ive learned because they deffinantly add different flavours. I was under the impression that modes were used in a similar way to the pentatonic scales.

So your saying i cant move all the major scale shapes to fit the key,
But i still want to use them , what do you recomend i do, i often play an e minor chord then use the c shape scale with the first note of that scale being open e, this sounds good and then i connect the scales and it all sounds good, kinda spanish so to get a different mode or whatever it is would i just use a different shape with the e minor?
Look at what Noteboat said closely:

You need to know which modes relate to which key.

if you're playing in C, and you decide you'll switch to a mode related to C major (like F Lydian) and play there for a while... it won't work. You'll think you're doing something, but it's a waste of time; the tonal center determines what the ear expects, so all people will hear is C major - no matter what you do.

^The reason it won't work is because F Lydian contains the exact same notes as the C Major scale.So that's what Noteboat means when he said that you have to know which modes relate to which key.In this case F Lydian is related to C Major meaning it has the exact same notes.So if you start off playing in C Major and then try to move to F Lydian it won't work because you've already established a C tonal center by starting out in C Major and that's gonna make things sound like C Major and even though you're trying to go to F Lydian your ear is going to still hear it as C Major.It'll sound like you are going to the IV chord in C Major (because you started on the tonic of the key of C and because F Lydian contains the same notes as C Major) which means that the tonal center is still C.

There's a big difference between a key and a mode and it's a bit of a big topic to try and cover here but basically:

- in keys you have what is called functional chord progressions meaning that all of the chords of the key are designed to work together in a very specific way and in very expected ways which function around the tonic and resolve back to it,thus emphasizing it and highlighting it as the tonic or (in other words) as the prime "focus" of the key.

- in modes you play only on the I or i chord of the mode and your entire harmonic and melodic pallette consists of that I or i chord only plus it's extensions - a fully extended I or i chord gives you all 7 notes of your mode - there is no functional chords other than the I or i chord of the mode and that's the difference between a key and a mode - modes do not have any functional chords numbered by roman numerals other than the I or i

keys have: I,ii,iii,IV,V,vi,vii*

modes have: either a I or a i and that's it as far as function is concerned

Even though modes are formed from a major scale, they're really altered scales. Using them in any other context is a waste of time and energy.

So the trick is to switch to a C based mode. If you're playing in C major, and suddenly you start sharping all the F notes, that difference you can hear. So you'll need to know that C Lydian (which is a C scale with the F notes sharped) is a mode of G.
C major = C D E F G A B C

C lydian = C D E F# G A B C

^ "If you're playing in C major, and suddenly you start sharping all the F notes, that difference you can hear. " - Noteboat


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(@noteboat)
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Prett decent job, Derp... I'm only going to quarrel with the bit about functional chords :) First the history part, only slightly tongue in cheek:

Modes are scales. The Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, and Mixolydian date back about 1400 years, to the beginning of Gregorian chant. Chant is homophonic music - there are no chords - so no system of harmony grew up around them.

As music became more complex, harmony began. The roots of harmony weren't the chants, but secular music - the direct ancestors of elaborate symphonic pieces was the folk music of the minstrels and troubadors. They used two different scales: the major scale and the natural minor scale. They also played instruments to accompany the singing, which made it perfect for adding more instruments... and developing harmony. Our chord structures take firm root here.

Funny... that music was a lot more popular than chant. The chant artists were losing market share! So... about 500 years ago they added two more modes: the Ionian and the Aeolian, hoping to compete with the minstrels by making brand new chant melodies from the new scales. Although these were still homophonic (after all, it's chant), an existing system of harmony was already in place.

So - it's not entirely true that modes traditionally have only a I or i chord. Ionian and Aeolian modes have the fully developed range of harmonic possibilities, because the harmonized scales came before the mode.

Now the practical part: since modes are really altered scales, you can use them over a modern chord progression just as you would any other altered scale. If you have a chord progression that's Dm7 -> C7 -> F, you could easily use the D Dorian as your chosen scale. Since D Dorian has B instead of the Bb expected by the key of F, you can't help but recognize it as an altered scale. Since that Bb is present as a tone in the C7 chord, you'll create a lot of tension (and right where you want it) by continuing with D Dorian.... and when you get to the F chord, if you resolve your modal melody to the tonic, D, you end up hearing an F6 chord - a fairly pleasing finish.

In that sense, you're using the Dorian scale to create a modal melody, and you happen to be laying it over a chord progression. This is very similar to the o's example of E Phrygian over an entire progression (the short answer is yes, you can do it, and it will work)

Here's where the rockers screw up the modes: They try to change horses with every darn chord. Notice in the example ONE mode works for the entire melody. That gives you a modal melody; the harmony is secondary to it. The rocker, not satisfied with the fact that he's created a modal melody, wants to make it more complicated - to somehow relate it to the chord structure. So he now approaches that progression with something like D Dorian, C mixolydian, and F Ionian, right?

So you've still got that B natural instead of Bb being played over the D minor 7 chord. Only the Dm7 doesn't have a B in it, so the effect is really subtle. Then by switching to C mixolyidian, you lose that B natural, and it stays gone while you go to F. You end up with a melody that's entirely in F, with one or two chromatic alterations on the Dm.

Notice it's not the chords that cause the problem, it's the melody - the defining characteristic (B natural) is missing in most of it, with or without chords. Look at the melody in isolation and you'll see it for what it is - all in F.

The solution is to stay in the Dorian; then you have a Dorian melody, no matter what the chords do. Jazzers have to cope with progressions that modulate from key to key, where a single scale isn't going to work... so they DO change scales often, sometimes with every chord. The difference: if they're shooting for the sound of that minor with the altered sixth tone, the Dorian mode, they will keep changing to other Dorian scales - the effect is subtle, so you need to beat the listener over the head with it. If the progression goes Fm7 -> Ebm7 -> Dm7, the jazzer reaching for a Dorian sound might use F Dorian (Ab, Bb, Eb), Eb Dorian (Eb, Gb, Ab, Bb, Db), and D Dorian (no accidentals).

So... IF you can keep the tonal center throughout a piece, you have a mode. If you can't keep the tonal center, the only way to get a modal sound is by keeping the same mode - and to do that, you'll need to know how each mode relates to each key.

If you like the Spanish effect you get from the Phrygian, it's a lot easier to look at the tones that create it: flat second, flat third, flat sixth, flat seventh. Alter those notes consistenly in your melody, and you get that sound.

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(@321barf)
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So - it's not entirely true that modes traditionally have only a I or i chord. Ionian and Aeolian modes have the fully developed range of harmonic possibilities

Ionian is the basis for functional major key harmony.So what, it's also a mode.

Aeolian is the natural minor and the starting point for a minor key.Sure it's a mode but it is also part of the minor key system of functional harmony.

The remaining modes are static,i.e. harmonically non-functional.

A static modal vamp is not the same as a functional chord progression.
Isn't it important to know the difference?


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(@noteboat)
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Functional harmony? I'm not sure what you mean - all harmony serves a function. When you say the modes are static... harmonically non-functional... well, of course they are. So is the major scale.

A vamp is a repeated phrase or progression, usually composed of few chords (or just a bass line), with a simple rhythm. A vamp typically serves as the backdrop for improvisation. A vamp that's built of chords is a functional progression; a vamp that's a bass line is not a 'functional progression' whether it's built from a mode or a major scale. So I'm not sure that understanding the difference betwen a modal vamp, a major scale vamp, or a chord progression is really important here - they're entirely different things.

If you're saying that a mode can only be used over the corresponding root chord, that's not accurate.

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(@psychonik)
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noteboat: im pretty sure what derp meant by that was that aolian and ionian modes (although they ARE the minor and major scales, respectively) are as much modes as the rest.. therefore not functioning harmonically, since modes are a melodic structure, not a harmonic, and have little to do with the underlying chords/key (see! half of what youve been saying HAS stuck!)
And im not sure if he was referring to a vamp in the same context as you.. forgive me if im wrong. Im not a theory guy, so i dont really know.

it gets confuzing. too much for me.


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(@noteboat)
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Yes, I got that they're modes. There's a difference between Ionian and Aeolian and the other modes, which I laid out in the brief history - the others have only been modes, while the Ionian and Aeolian were secular scales first, with a developed structure of harmony, before they were ever used as church modes.

When they're used as church modes, they have no harmonic context, because there's no harmony to a Gregorian chant. But that's true of any scale, in any context; scales do not 'contain' harmony; harmonization is an optional thing.

And if you DO choose to harmonize a melody, you can do so regardless of the scale used to it. There's nothing about the Dorian mode that says 'you must use chord X here'.... and nothing about a specific chord that demands the use of a mode.

One of the problems with modal stuff is it's too darn easy to discuss in words, without actually listening to music. Time to put my composing hat on....

Here's a simple melody in D Dorian mode. It's clear from listening to it that it's Dorian; the third note (F natural) sets up the minor sound; I put the B natural, which identifies the mode, on beats 6 and 7... so by measure 3, there's no question it's Dorian.

and here is the same melody, reinforced with a Dm chord every third beat. The chord supports the harmony. You hear the D Dorian sound, strongly reinforced by the harmony.

Derp mentioned that modes have only I or i. Usually I is used for Ionian, Lydian, and Mixolydian, and i is used for Dorian, Phrygian, and Aeolian - because that's the harmony expected from the major scale. There aren't any fixed rules, though, that say a minor sounding mode has to be backed with a minor chord... here is the same melody once again over a D major chord. It still sounds Dorian (because it's the melody that sets the modality of a piece), even though the chord doesn't quite 'match'. If anything, it's a little more tense because of the major/minor conflict between the melody and harmony.

Now for 'functional' chord changes... let's set it over Dm7-Em7-A7-Dm7, a nice ii-V-i progression. Even over a 'functional' harmony you hear the modal sound. The second B natural doesn't sound nearly as strong as it did, because the A7 harmony encompasses the B natural note... but the harmony hasn't changed the modal quality of the melody; it just doesn't support it quite so well at that point.

On to a single note vamp in D minor. This sounds modal, just as we'd all expect... but let's move the vamp portion to A minor, and even change a note at the beginning of beat 7 (from the expected E of a straight transposition to G - the fifth of the relative major, C) and it still sounds like D Dorian

What the heck, let's go to extremes. We'll put a new single note vamp on, in C major. We'll even extend it, so the last note played will be a C natural in the bass line. You still hear the melody as Dorian, even with that distraction. Want more? We'll harmonize the vamp with a C-G-Am-G-C-G-C progression[/url] to see if we can't destroy the mode. We can't - it's still there. Weaker, yes... the harmony does everything possible to establish a C tonal center. What we end up with is TWO tonal centers: C for the accompaniment, reinforced by harmony... D for the melody. Now it sounds like bad harmony (and it is; it's in total conflict with the melody all the way through) - but it doesn't make it sound like an Ionian melody.

Chords (and implied chords) determine the tonality of a piece, and that always follows from the harmonization of our major and minor scales. But it's the scale itself that determines the modality of a piece, by where the individual notes fall in relation to the tonal center of the melody. Harmony can reinforce or detract from the mode the melody establishes, but it can never change it into something else.

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(@321barf)
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Functional harmony?
You know,Tonic,Sub-Dominant & Dominant?

...don't tell me such functions exist in Dorian?

When you say the modes are static... harmonically non-functional... well, of course they are. So is the major scale.
Yeah,however I was talking about "modes" versus "Keys" so I made the distinction between the two.
Don't know why you want to split hairs about it,nor do I see how doing so helps the o to grasp the basics of it.Why make it more confusing than it already is?

A vamp that's built of chords is a functional progression; a vamp that's a bass line is not a 'functional progression' whether it's built from a mode or a major scale. So I'm not sure that understanding the difference betwen a modal vamp, a major scale vamp, or a chord progression is really important here - they're entirely different things.
Yes they are entirely different things which is the distinction I was trying to make but then you tried to say that they weren't different but then at the end you admit that "- they're entirely different."

A vamp that's built of chords is a functional progression
It is?

So what you are saying is that if you harmonize the Dorian scale it's chords will function as either Tonic,Sub-Dominant or Dominant?

Wow,that's news to me.

Surely you jest?


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 sirN
(@sirn)
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This all sounds familiar.

check out my website for good recording/playing info


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(@noteboat)
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...don't tell me such functions exist in Dorian?
Such functions exist in chord progressions. Chord progressions are not modes, or major or minor scales.

I'm not trying to make it complicated. I'm trying to correct your mis-statement that the big difference between a scale and a mode is the use of harmony; the big difference is the tonal center, which changes the relationship between individual tones and the root. I'm not the one who brought vamps into this, or implied it's important to know the difference between a vamp and a progression to understand how to use modes.

You're also mis-interpreting my reply on vamps, although I should have done a better job expressing it. Vamps are entirely different from modes. So are 'functional' chord progresssions. Vamps built from chord progressions are the same as functional progressions (they ARE functional chord progressions); all chord progressions are different from modes and scales. Vamps built from single notes can be modal or not, depending on their content.

There are two concepts here: tonality and modality. Tonality is the tones that are used; modality is the tonal center.

The tones that are used in C Ionian are identical to the tones used in D Dorian. This will lead to the same natural harmonization.

A good way to look at this is to think of D Dorian as an altered D minor scale. If you harmonize D harmonic minor, you get:

i = Dm
ii = Eº
III+ = F+
iv = Gm
V = A
VI+ = Bb+
vii = C#º

And if you harmonize D Dorian, you get:

i = Dm
ii = Em
III = F
IV = G
v = Am
vi = Bº
VII = C

in that sense, C Ionian and D Dorian are the same - they have the same chords. The chords fall on different places, though... D Dorian has more in common with D minor than it does with C; the tonic chords are the same in D Dorian and D minor, while NO chord has the same position/function as C

It's far too easy to look at those chords and say 'this is the same as C major'. It's not. The tonality is the same, so you have the same set of tones, and the same set of chords. Follow that path and you'll mis-use modes like virtually every guitarist; it's the modality that creates the sound.

Modes are really altered scales. Although a modal melody can be harmonized, they are most effective when you strive to bring out the 'wrong' notes. If you play D Dorian over a D major or D minor progression, you will create the modal sound. The tonal center is established by the mode, and reinforced by the tonal center of the chord progression - even though some of the chords will be 'wrong' for the mode, the important part - the tonal center - will be right.

If you play D Dorian over a C major progression, you have conflicting tonal centers. If you successfully maintain D Dorian, you'll end up with something like my last sound file - not very pleasing. Because it's not very pleasing, you will tend to gravitate towards the C tonal center when improvising, and you will no longer be playing in D Dorian. Even though you are using all the 'right' notes, the important part - the tonal center - will be wrong.

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(@321barf)
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I know D Dorian has the same tones as C Major and if you harmonize D Dorian you get the same chords as C Major and that D Is the tonal center,not C..But the chords do not function in the same way at all.And not just because the tonal center is D and the chords fall on different places.The functions don't fall on different places as you seem to be implying.They don't exist at all in D Dorian.Yes I know that D Dorian has more in common with D minor than C Major.If you harmonize D Dorian or C Dorian the chords will not behave the same way they do in C Major.
If you play D Dorian over a D major or D minor progression, you will create the modal sound.
I find that hard to believe (especially) in the case of the D Major progression.
The tonal center is established by the mode, and reinforced by the tonal center of the chord progression - even though some of the chords will be 'wrong' for the mode, the important part - the tonal center - will be right.

I don't know...

So what you are advocating is basically this: if I have a ii V I in D Major and because it's resolving to D and D is my tonal center then I can play any D scale or mode I want to for the melody,so if I choose D Dorian then it's going to sound like D Dorian.Is that what you're saying?

The minor seventh (the C of D Dorian) when played against the D chord is going to create a D7 sound.So basically you are saying that it's okay to get D7 sounds while playing in D Dorian and that it'll still somehow sound like D Dorian.


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(@noteboat)
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I find that hard to believe (especially) in the case of the D Major progression.

I posted a soundfile of a Dorian melody over both a D major chord and a D minor ii-V-i progression... but you're not saying that's not what you hear; you're saying you find it hard to believe.

Here is the
same melody over a D-Em-A7-D progression

Please listen to it. If you quarrel with my explanation without bothering to listen, then this is not a discussion about music theory (and I won't waste my time on it).

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